Founded in 1960 by Reverend Harvell Jackson, Palestine Gardens is a miniature replica of the Holy Land during the time of Jesus Christ. Located in rural Lucedale, Mississippi, on Palestine Gardens Road, the site has been under the care of Don Bradley and his wife Cindy for the last 25 years. Their 10-year-young pup Uri (aka Bruiser, their faithful “one-eyed tour greeter” ) has been a faithful hand as well.
Don, a jovial 62-year old man with an easy Southern drawl, says people come from all over the world to visit the roadside attraction. He’s had visitors from all seven continents and from all different faiths. “We’re off the beaten path in the middle of the Mississippi woods,” Don says. “But we get people from all walks of life. I had a 104 year young lady come visit and I asked her ‘What can you remember when you were a little girl?’ and she could remember when the Wright Brothers flew into Mississippi.”
Don was only three years old when Palestine Gardens was first created, but he’s restored everything in the miniature land since he took it over in 1994. For him, the folk art construction is a passion project, and also way of sharing his faith with others. Visitors can take a guided tour through Jerusalem (which is about 15 yards wide), Nazareth, Jericho, Bethlehem, the Jordan River, The Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, and more.
Mixed materials, including cement, brick, and plants, were used to create the site, which stretches for nearly 2.5 acres. The site’s scalable, too, as one yard equals one mile. The site contains both Old Testament and New Testament references. But you don’t need to know anything about the Bible to appreciate Palestine Gardens—tours are offered, with Don providing historical and biblical insight into each location.
Know Before You Go
Visit their Facebook Page for more details and call before you go. Admission is free, though donations are always welcome, and the attraction is open to all.